Overlaying Conceptual Frameworks

Compendium extends the use of IBIS from modeling a discussion, to more systematic modeling of a problem. A modeling approach focuses attention on a specific subset of issues and information, it may constrain the kinds of options one considers, and it may also focus attention on how one assesses them. In Compendium, a modeling approach is translated into an issue template, which can also be created simply to deal with any well under-stood situation where there is a recommended approach to proceed, for instance, from best practice or a standard operating procedure. Figure 5.4 shows a template for modeling a business process, prior to its instantiation.

Templates were created to support structured modeling within the IBIS framework, which by definition moves the tool into the space of reasonably well-structured problems. These are much easier contexts in which a beginner can use Compendium, since they are provided with a representational scaffold for working through a set of predefined issues. Assuming the meeting has faith in the template, when its questions have been answered, the meeting can be confident that they have made some progress. A hallmark of the approach is, however, the ability to break from formal and prescribed representations into informal, ad hoc communication, incorporating both in the same view if that is helpful to the partici-pants (e.g. “in this context we should really ask a different question…”). Hypertext nodes and links can thus be added either in accordance with templates or in an opportunistic fashion. A complement to issue templates are tags (metadata keywords) assigned to any concept (node) in the database to show connections through membership in a common category. Tags serve to specialize a node type with as many attributes as required for it to play multiple roles in different contexts. At the end of the session all of the nodes so marked can be harvested. In modeling, nodes sharing a tag are often tracked as a ‘catalogue’ of nodes stored for future reuse. Tags may reflect generic meeting processes (e.g. Action-Jane), or may be driven by an underlying methodology that Compendium is being used to support (e.g. Data-Provider). Alternatively, ad hoc tags can be created on the fly, to reflect the emergence of a new theme.

As reviewed in Chap. 1, it has long been recognized that DR cannot exist in a vacuum but must be connected to relevant design artifacts and views. This can be done by dropping an application document or Web URL into Compendium to create a hyperlinked Reference node, but tags provide a mechanism for deeper level connections. Since nodes may originate from other systems (written directly via the MySQL API or manually imported as XML) it is possible to use tags to mirror attributes of the domains which these external systems model. The world of IBIS is thus connected via the simple mechanisms of templates, tags and hyperlinks to any other relevant domain, from end-user scenarios and organizational processes, to software architecture and project management.